Abstract

We analyze a unidimensional model of two-candidate electoral competition where voters have imperfect information about the candidates' policy proposals, that is, voters cannot observe the exact policy proposals of the candidates but only which candidate offers the most leftist/rightist platform. We assume that candidates are purely office motivated and that one candidate enjoys a valence advantage over the other. We characterize the unique Sequential Equilibrium in very-weakly undominated strategies of the game. In this equilibrium the behavior of the two candidates tends to maximum extremism, due to the voters' lack of information. But it may converge or diverge depending on the size of the advantage. For small values of the advantage candidates converge to the extreme policy most preferred by the median and for large values of the advantage candidates strategies diverge: each candidate specializes in a different extreme policy. These results are robust to the introduction of a proportion of well informed voters. In this case the degree of extremism decreases when the voters become more informed.
Published as: Imperfectly Informed Voters and Strategic Extremism in International Economic Review , Vol. 58, No. 2, 439-471, May, 2017